Management Solutions Group is a hands-on consulting firm who work along side our clients to teach them the best ways to approach quality and project management processes – using their everyday work as examples to study.

Process Mapping: Defining Procedures, Interactions, and Improvement

Monday, October 26, 2009 · 0 comments

We have been using process mapping techniques for over 10 years now. We use this for internal auditing, lean improvements, management system documentation and improvement, and for general training.

We have been more recently focusing on the process mapping in service industries. Some of these companies are supporting manufacturing and several in completely different business areas.

We are finding that the expertise gained in documenting and improvement of processes in manufacturing has directly applied in the service and support areas.

The goals of process mapping should include:

· Define how work is conducted
· Describe the “Who”, “What”, & “When” of a process
· Describe the interactions between different departments and groups
· Standardize important steps
· More effectively and efficiently train new people
· Pursue higher quality and efficiency
· Identify non-value added steps
· Identify bottlenecks
· Identify opportunities to combine steps
· Identify computerization opportunities

Most processes can be broken down to the following 2 types:

1. External Oriented Process
- Direct association with Customer Satisfaction
- Inputs & output overlap with Customer
- Customer has expectations / requirements to meet
2. Management & Support Processes
- Processes with internal “Customers” and requirements

When developing a process map it is critical to identify the process inputs and outputs. These include manpower, machine, materials, data…These can be used when creating the process flow within a functional area.

The next important part of the process is to document the interactions within the process to other functional areas. Once a process is established (Even when not documented) the interactions is where the issues most commonly occur. A good example is that purchasing may be very good at their process in procuring the correct materials in an agreed upon timeframe, a common issue may be that they are not notified up front when a new project is started.

These processes may also identify multiple approvals required within a project. Upon closer process review it may be determined that these approvals can be combined or some steps eliminated which would speed the process up and eliminate bottlenecks. This is a lean concept known as value stream mapping.

Some quick tips on incorporating value stream mapping concepts in a process map include:

· Record Process as it actually is
· Make a list of steps that could be simplified
· Identify responsibility
· Identify Authority
· Focus on interactions with other departments, customers, suppliers…
· Create a list of items that could be computerized
· Start a “Parking Lot” to store ideas to address later

Process maps are a much better approach to documenting processes than the traditional written procedure. They are much easier for most people to understand and can more quickly convey critical steps and interaction points.

Several Process Mapping sessions recently conducted immediately identified missed communication, non-value added steps and opportunities for improvement. In each case this initiated significant improvements for a return on investment of the time and resources for this project.

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The purpose of this blog is to write and post articles with respect to our work as consultants in the areas of quality, process and project management.

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About Me

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Grand Rapids, MI, United States
I have worked with hundreds of companies in a wide range of industries during the past eight years as president of MSG. In addition to building a successful business, I have facilitated the implementation of ISO 17025, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, APQP, CMMI & SPICE. I have also trained on Project Management, Time Management and Lean Concepts, and more recently implemented and trained on AS 9100 and AS 9006 as well as DO178B requirements.